Last chance to save the world

Twenty years ago, Dr James E Hansen, a leading expert on climate change from Nasa, testified before the US Senate that global warming had begun. This week he returned to Capitol Hill.

“Then, as now, Dr Hansen, the director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was pushing beyond what many of his colleagues in climatology were willing to say – at least publicly. His supporters say that, given how science and events appear to be catching up with his projections of two decades ago, the world had better heed his new recommendations,” Andrew Revkin wrote in The New York Times.

Dr Hansen said that 2009 may present the last chance we have to defuse what he calls the “global warming time bomb.”

Time running out for nuclear program talks, Iran warns

The powerful speaker of Iran’s parliament warned Wednesday that his nation could take drastic steps in response to economic, political and military pressure meant to halt controversial parts of its nuclear program.

Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament and a former nuclear negotiator, said there was “only a little time left” for talks before Iran would make unspecified moves that the West would regret.

Larijani, who is close to supreme leader Ali Khamenei, did not specify what Iran would do. But Tehran’s options include kicking out International Atomic Energy Agency monitors now keeping an eye on Iran’s nuclear program or stepping up its uranium enrichment program to produce weapons-grade material.

U.S. to take North Korea off terror list

North Korea took a step on Thursday toward reintegration into the world community and rapprochement with the United States by submitting for outside review a long-delayed declaration of its nuclear program.

The Bush administration almost immediately announced it was preparing to remove the country it once described as part of the “axis of evil” from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and also lifted some sanctions.

The 60-page declaration from North Korea, one of the world’s most isolated and impoverished nations, was expected to describe in previously undisclosed detail its capabilities in nuclear power and nuclear weapons — meeting a major demand of the United States and other countries that consider the North a dangerous source of instability.

Ex-diplomat says US should engage with Hamas leaders

A ormer senior US diplomat described senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniya as a “thoughtful politician,” saying the US administration should drop its refusal to engage with the Palestinian movement.

Richard Viets, who was US ambassador to Jordan in the early 1980s, Tuesday recounted his meeting with Haniya in Gaza earlier this month as part of a private US group’s fact-finding mission to the region.

“Haniya is a very smart, articulate, sophisticated, thoughtful politician. You have to be impressed sitting in the room with him,” Viets told a news conference.

Israel and Hezbollah ready to sign on prisoner swap deal

Israel and Hezbollah have prepared a written agreement on a prisoner exchange that the cabinet will deliberate on Sunday and possible approve. If approved, Israel will sign the deal that will then be taken to Beirut by the German mediators for Hezbollah’s signature.

The deal with Hezbollah aims to secure the release of IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured in a cross-border raid by the Lebanese guerillas in July 2006, sparking the Second Lebanon War.

Can Lebanon douse political fires?

…the formation of a new national unity government has hit an impasse. Rival politicians are squabbling over the distribution of cabinet portfolios, and tensions are building once more in flash points around the country.

Some observers also worry that Lebanon, like Iraq, could become a new battleground between Sunni and Shiite extremists. The week-long street battles in Beirut in May – between the militant Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni supporters of the Future Movement – have aggravated simmering tensions between Sunnis and Shiites. But others suggest that these are largely local disputes.

“Differences among the Lebanese have reached the edge of suicide,” warned Michel Suleiman, the new president, at a meeting Wednesday of Lebanese spiritual leaders who convened at the presidential palace to discuss how to address the friction.

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